There’s been some talk about Sayulita Sickness in online communities for a while now. Here’s my experience and what you should know.
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Over the years, as Sayulita has grown in popularity among travelers, there has been talk of what is known as Sayulita Sickness.
However, this term is a bit misleading. The most common sickness that people come down with norovirus. Norovirus is not specific to Sayulita. It can be caught anywhere in the world.
Still, there are a lot of people that are concerned about the safety of traveling to Sayulita. For a full perspective of the health and safety of Sayulita, check out this page.
With the newly established water treatment plant, a community effort to keep the streets clean, and volunteers planting native plants, Sayulita is deeply invested in keeping their city clean and healthy.
That being said, both my daughter and I did get sick while visiting Sayulita.
Sayulita Sickness: Our Experience
We visited Sayulita from January 1st to January 6th, 2020. Before coming to the beautiful state of Nayarit, I had read online of people getting sick while vacationing here.
Some people mentioned vomiting or extreme diarrhea. There were also cases of fatigue and migraines for up to a week following a trip.
Still, none of us expected to get sick.
Sydnee: January 5th, 2020
Here’s a little backstory as to what we did the previous days. The 3rd of January was my 29th birthday and for the occasion, we booked a tour to Marietas Islands with ChicaLocca Tours. Read about the awesome tour here.
That day everyone felt great and we were in good health. I puked after getting out of the van in Sayulita, probably from too much to drink and the motion of the ocean. But, aside from that, all was well.
The following day we spent the entire day at Playa Los Muertos. While we were there, the kids and I drank water, Chris drank margaritas and we ate some guacamole and chips.
That evening we went out to dinner at Sayulita Café Casa del Chile Relleno. The food was fabulous and it was one of our favorite meals from the trip. Afterward, we spent the evening walking around town and getting ice cream from Buonissimo.
On the morning of January 5th at around 6AM our oldest daughter, Sydnee, seven, woke up complaining that her stomach hurt. We invited her to come lay in bed with us. After about 20 minutes she exclaimed that she was going to puke.
After vomiting the first time she seemed a bit better but very lethargic. We went to breakfast at Yah-Yah Sayulita as a family and she fell asleep on the table and wouldn’t touch her waffle.
Chris and I encouraged her to drink some water, which led to another bout of vomiting back at the hotel. We stopped at the pharmacy and bought some Pepto Bismol to give her, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Throughout the day, she vomited roughly five times, ate nothing, and slept for around 8 hours on and off. We were very concerned and starting to talk about seeing a doctor.
The next morning she woke up complaining that her stomach still hurt and she was very tired. Still, we pushed her to go to breakfast. At Chocobanana she ate two bites of her pancake and all of the banana slices.
It took about an hour, but after that, she seemed to have more energy and was feeling better. Still, it took her until the following day to actually eat anything.
Our return flights were very messy. We flew from Puerto Vallarta to Phoenix and then Denver. Then we stayed the night in Denver, flew from Denver to Seattle, and then Seattle to home, Bozeman. I know, poor flight planning — we had initially planned to drive to and from Denver.
On the day we left Puerto Vallarta my stomach was feeling a little bubbly, but nothing concerning. I had breakfast as usual and then we had lunch after touching down in Phoenix.
That night I started to have very severe diarrhea and my appetite dropped off completely. We ordered pizza in our hotel room and by the time it got to the room, I had no interest in eating.
The following day was a slew of flights and airports. And each time we were on the ground, I was in the bathroom with watery, explosive diarrhea.
Upon returning home that night, I knew something was wrong but I didn’t feel terrible. I just had no appetite, felt irritable, and couldn’t keep anything in me for more than thirty minutes.
The next day was by far the worst. I woke of with flu-like symptoms. I was feverish, had explosive diarrhea, and the most extreme fatigue I have ever had. I was still in the bathroom with diarrhea every 30 minutes while awake. But, I would venture to say that I slept 20+ hours that day.
The following day I felt a little better but still wasn’t able to stomach much food and my energy was lacking. A persistent headache snuck in during the afternoon, and I assume this is due to a lack of any nutrients and even dehydration.
Now, it’s been just over a week and I feel completely normal. However, I still have not had a ‘normal’ bowel movement since returning home. Everything is very sudden and still much more violent than it should be.
What Causes It?
Neither Sydnee or I have been to see a doctor. Sydnee’s symptoms were completely gone within 36 hours. She was also vomiting, while mine was diarrhea. This leads me to believe that we may have had two different sicknesses.
The most likely suspect is norovirus.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus in which a person can suffer vomiting or diarrhea. You can get norovirus from coming in contact with someone who is infected, from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, or from touching a contaminated surface and then putting your hands in your mouth.
The virus is most prominent and likely to be caught between November and April.
In my case, however, there is a chance that I may have picked up a parasite. When doing some research, I came across multiple articles about the Cyclospora parasite.
This parasite is common in tropical or subtropical regions of the world. The illness does not typically spread person to person, which would make sense as to why the rest of my family didn’t get it. Instead, Cyclospora is typically transferred in contaminated food or drinks. It’s even more common in uncooked foods such as fruits and vegetables.
After coming in contact with Cyclospora, a person typically starts having symptoms seven days later. Although it can begin as soon as two days after contact. The symptoms of having Cyclospora include:
- watery diarrhea
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- increased gas
- low-grade fever
According to the CDC, left untreated, the symptoms can remain for a couple of weeks up to a month. This being said, all of my symptoms have dissipated aside from watery diarrhea.
I want to add this so there is no confusion:
I do not think that Sayulita is dirty and I would go back in a heartbeat. However, that being said, I do think it’s important to take more precautions when traveling to an underdeveloped place such as Sayulita.
- Wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom and before meals.
- Be sure you are drinking only bottled water. Every restaurant we went to served unopened bottled water when we ordered water.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently.
- Ahead of time, take your vitamins every day and eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your immune system strong.
I cannot 100% say that our sickness was due to food or drinks that we consumed in Sayulita. We have no idea if it was directly related to being in Sayulita. I just want to share my experience in hopes of helping someone else who may be experiencing similar symptoms.
To answer some questions:
- Yes, we swam and played in both beaches in Sayulita.
- Yes, we ate fresh fruits from restaurants, street vendors, and on the tour boat going to Marietas Islands.
- No, we did not drink water from the sinks.
If you have any questions regarding our experience with being sick after traveling to Sayulita, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.